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“Dirty Little Secrets”: On Transphobic Eroticism and the Limits of Intimacy

“Dirty Little Secrets”: On Transphobic Eroticism and the Limits of Intimacy

Introduction & Objectives: Trans people face difficulties
negotiating intimacy – sexual or otherwise – in dominant
constructions of intimacy and sexuality. For example,
many straight-identified men will have sex with trans
women “behind closed doors.” And trans women are also
to subjected to distinctive eroticisms that are not easily
assimilated into straight/bi/gay model of sexuality.
The objective is to theoretically illuminate the relationship
between the construction of trans people as
illusions and the attendant foreclosures of intimacy.
While some of the results will be more general, much
of the focus will concern relations and sexual interactions
between trans women and non-trans men.
Approach: Critical Phenomenology, Philosophical
analysis and argumentation
Findings and Discussion: While Garfinkel proposes
temporal contextualization to explain what he calls
“ceremonial sex transfers,” this presentation defends
the notion of contextualization in interpersonal space as
more appropriate. Interactions with trans people are
“frozen” at a particular interpersonal distance. Any
movement closer (or sometimes further away) terminates
the “playing along” that others sometimes engage
in. A better understanding of the transphobic eroticisms
of trans women can be highlighted by turning to
“erotic structuralism” – the view the sexual desires
have a structure that can typically be understood in
terms of the relations among self, activity, and other
and that sexual desire involves the eroticization of certain
forms of intimacy. In these cases it is argued that
“playing along” is restricted to the “erotic content” of
the desire alone.
Keywords: Transgender, Transphobia, Intimacy
Source of Funding: Csula
Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Statement: None

Speakers: Talia Bettcher